• Councillors approve Local Plan for further consultation

    10th May 2012 | News | Claire
  • Before the meeting, Knowle drive was filled with dozens of ‘Save Our Sidmouth’ protesters wearing yellow t-shirts and brandishing placards. 

    Many Sidmouth residents are angry about a proposed allocation of 12 acres of ‘employment’ or industrial land at Sidford.

    Around 100 (mainly Sidmouth) people came into the meeting to hear the debate.

    To kick off the meeting, Cllr Mike Allen, chair of the former Local Plan Panel said that he spoke for ‘the entire Local Plan Panel’ when he endorsed the proposals and took councillors through key elements.

    Incomprehensibly, he said Ottery St Mary ‘remained static’ with an allocation of 300 houses.

    A few councillors not on the planning committee spoke.  These included:

    Cllr Douglas Hull, who was happy with proposals for over 1000 houses at Axminster, as it meant the town might get a bypass.

    Cllr Stuart Hughes, who was concerned about proposals for an industrial estate at Sidford.

    Cllr Graham Troman, who was also concerned about proposals for an industrial estate at Sidford.

    Cllr Tim Wood, who had some worries about a Clinton Devon Estates proposal for 350 houses at Littleham, Exmouth.

    And myself and Cllr Roger Giles.

    Roger Giles expressed his surprise that although the entire (and vast) Ottermill factory site had now been allocated for housing (see my blog dated 22 March) only THREE, yes THREE more houses had been added to its allocation. 

    However, over 200 houses were proposed as a strategic allocation on a green field near The Kings School.  How, Cllr Giles asked the committee, did this make sense?

    When my turn to speak came, I said that Cllr Allen certainly did not speak for me.

    I raised the issue of what I see as the biggest risk to EDDC’s Local Plan being found unsound by the planning inspector. 

    The massive and unevidenced amount of employment land (industrial estates) proposed for the district.

    EDDC is relying on one report by major landowners and developers on East Devon Business Forum, to support its proposals. 

    Two independent reports commissioned by EDDC (at a total cost of £55,000 to the taxpayer), advising a significantly reduced amount of industrial land, have been ignored.

    I also said there was no evidence for the large amount of housing planned, particularly during a double-dip recession, where population migration slows up considerably.

    Councillors on the Development Management Committee endorsed the plan to be submitted for a further consultation on development for proposals for East Devon towns.  This will last four weeks.

    The Local Plan is expected to be endorsed, (unless any of the ruling party sees the light over the huge amount of development proposed) at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 25 July, starting at 6.30pm.

    After this, the formal pre-submission stage starts (where the plan cannot be changed) prior to a planning inspector assessing the proposals next year.